Just shy of 12 years ago, a group of ordinary people wanted to share God’s love in a practical way.
They met at West Campus for a 7:00am breakfast.
They would then head out to trim bushes, clean gutters, sweep sidewalks, and winterize windows.
They’d return to church for lunch and share what they did, what they learned, and how they “saw Jesus” that morning.
They called the morning, Kindness in Progress and did it again… and again.
Fast forward several months, they started servicing our neighbor’s cars (at no cost).
As the joy of sharing God’s love in a practical way grew, projects multiplied. Soon, teams of people were preparing meals, cleaning out garages, landscaping flower beds, and packing bags of food for hungry kids.
It was more than just kindness in progress… it was our faith in action.
And we’ve been helping people put their faith in action ever since.
Were you there at the first Kindness in Progress? Drop me a note and share a story or memory of that day.
And then, let's continue putting our Faith in Action on Saturday, May 21.
What happens on the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday?
Well, if you were a Roman, it was a regular business day. You’d go off to work and be about your business. That was normal for you because you didn’t know anything different. Romans did not have a “work from rest” attitude. Quite the opposite. Their 8-day work week was more of a “rest from your work” mindset… much like we have in America, today.
However, if you were of the Hebrew tradition and Jewish, you would be doing the same thing that has happened every Saturday since the beginning of creation. It was a normal, ordinary Sabbath Saturday.
Like the women who brought spices and perfume to Jesus’ tomb (Luke 23:56), you would rest. Work would stop. Your business would be the hipster version of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A and be closed before it was cool. You’d go to worship. You’d sing songs. You’d pray prayers. You’d bring an offering. You spend time with your family. You may even take a nap. You would remember that life doesn’t depend on your work, but on the work of Your creator and His coming Messiah.
That first Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday was incredibly ordinary and normal. And, in its own way, it was normal and ordinary for Jesus, too.
Jesus rested. He is lying in a tomb. He did absolutely nothing. He was at rest.
Church history would say that Jesus descended into hell. This idea is taken from 1 Peter 4:6 which says that Jesus proclaimed good news to the dead. Ephesians 4:9 also says that Jesus descended into the lower parts of the earth. And while the gospels do not speak explicitly of this, it makes sense. Our statement of faith actually says, “he descended into hell”. Thankfully, salvation doesn’t depend on knowing for sure and faith gives us the latitude to be curious.
For sure, we know that Jesus’ lifeless body is laying in Joseph’s cold, dark tomb. According to the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus’ tomb is guarded by Roman guards because Jews can’t work on the Sabbath and they’re afraid Jesus’ followers might steal the body since Jesus prophesied that He would rise on the third day.
So, what is Jesus humanly doing between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday? Jesus is resting in perfect Shabbat Shalom. . . Sabbath Peace. Wholeness. Completeness. His lifeless body is here on earth. His spirit is in God, His Father’s hands (Luke 23:46).
This may shape a whole new understanding to the term “rest in peace” which is sometimes said when somebody dies or at a funeral or memorial service.
We remember that the next day began at sundown. So as the sun goes down on Saturday, a new day begins… a new week emerges… Resurrection life walks out of the cold, dark, dead grave. . .
Church traditions include a Saturday evening service called, “vigil”. Oftentimes, there would be mass baptisms, the church would welcome new members, and there would be a party. Not only is it a picture of the new life of Jesus that emerges within the church, but baptism, membership, and a party is also a fun picture of the forever life of a forever Sabbath in heaven!
So how will your Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday play out this year?
And what would it take for our Saturday to become a Shabbat Shalom so that when next year’s “Holy Saturday” comes around, Jesus’ Sabbath Peace would be just your regular, ordinary, normal Saturday. . . just like God had ordered it from the very beginning.
Warning: Spoiler Alert Ahead
Music. Imagery. Video. Drama.
I have always loved the creative arts. They’re the cultural artifacts that communicate truths about real life.
They also teach and tell us about faith.
It’s no surprise that the Jesus story has invited such artistry over the years. It’s generally accepted that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the greatest story ever told. Yet, when we only read or hear the story, we experience just one human dimension of it. That’s why telling the Jesus story through different narratives and mediums is so powerful. That’s right - it doesn’t need to be as explicit as Jesus Christ Superstar or Godspell.
Same story. Ancient truth. Fresh experience.
The only thing that changes lives is the work of the Holy Spirit through the person and work of Jesus - which is who the entire story is about.
So, because we’re going into Easter week, I want to take a moment and share my three favorite musicals that tell the Jesus story.
Again… warning: spoilers ahead!
So many great examples here.
Who can forget the utter despair in Fantine’s cries in “I Dreamed a Dream”? She experiences resurrection because of Valjean’s sacrifice, kindness, and love. Perhaps even more moving is how Valjean returns after his arrest and imprisonment to rescue Cosette. What an incredible example of the power of new life, forgiveness, and how death never has the last word when it comes to unconditional love.
Check out this fantastic essay from Joel Woodruff of the C.S. Lewis Institute highlighting even more examples.
Hang with me.
Elphaba is the Jesus figure in this spectacular show. Surprised?
The Wizard is king - and not in a good way. Everyone and everything is manipulated, controlled, oppressed, or silenced. And, Elphaba dies in order to set the entire kingdom (animals and all) free.
By the way, if you’ve seen this masterpiece - did you catch how Elphaba dies? Literally, by baptism. Learn more about what I mean by reading Romans 6.
Despite some questions around historical accuracy, this show makes me think about how easy it is to go our entire lives thinking that the entire show is about us not giving up our shot. But, remember who dies, who lives, and tells the story. Let’s be honest: the real hero of this show is Eliza. She’s the Jesus figure who reshapes Alexander Hamilton; who sticks with him through infidelity, shame, chaos; and lives on. While everyone thinks it’s Alexander Hamilton’s story that is going to be told throughout history, it’s really Eliza’s story of unconditional love that lives on.
You can check out this article from Christianity Today to learn other ways Hamilton communicates the gospel.
Send me a note and share your favorite musicals and how they tell the Jesus story.
I’ll see you for worship this week… onsite or online!
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor.